Tim Brown caught a lot of long bombs as a receiver for the Oakland Raiders. On Monday, he dropped a bomb on Bill Callahan, his former coach and current Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Brown retold a story, which he first spoke of on FOX Sports Net’s “Pro Football Preview” show in 2006, saying Callahan essentially threw Super Bowl XXXVII by changing the offensive game plan the Friday before the game.
Brown, a Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame, suggested that Callahan made the change to help then-Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden.
Gruden was the Raiders’ head coach four years prior to taking over the Buccaneers in 2002 and leading them against his former team in Super Bowl XXXVII, a 48-21 Tampa Bay win.
Brown, a standout at Dallas’ Woodrow Wilson High, also said Callahan had a grudge against the Raiders.
“We all called it sabotage . . . because Callahan and Gruden were good friends,” Brown said. “And Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, you know, hated the Raiders. You know, only came [to Oakland] because Gruden made him come.
“It’s hard to say the guy sabotaged the Super Bowl. You know, can you really say that? That can be my opinion, but I can’t say for a fact that that’s what his plan was, to sabotage the Super Bowl. He hated the Raiders so much that he would sabotage the Super Bowl so his friend can win the Super Bowl. That’s hard to say, because you can’t prove it.
“But the facts are what they are, that less than 36 hours before the game we changed our game plan. And we go into that game absolutely knowing that we have no shot. That the only shot we had [was] if Tampa Bay didn’t show up.”
Callahan was in Mobile, Ala. on Monday with the rest of the Cowboys coaching staff to scout the Senior Bowl and was not available for comment. It has been speculated that Callahan could take over play-calling duties from head coach Jason Garrett. Callahan currently coaches the offensive line in addition to holding the coordinator title.
Brown said Callahan switched at the last minute from a run-heavy game plan, one that took advantage of a size advantage up front, to a passing-heavy plan.
The Raiders attempted 44 passes and ran the ball just 11 times for 19 yards, although the Raiders likely abandoned the run trailing 20-3 at halftime. Quarterback Rich Gannon threw five interceptions and was sacked five times.
Brown said the last-minute change affected center Barret Robbins, who would have to make new line calls without practicing them. Robbins, who was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder, disappeared two days before the game and did not play.
“Barret Robbins begged Coach Callahan, ‘Do not do this to me. I don’t have time to make my calls, to get my calls ready. You can’t do this to me on a Friday.”
Brown said the players knew that Robbins was unstable, although he stopped short of saying Callahan’s decision triggered Robbins’ manic episode that caused him to abandon the team.
Robbins’ disappearance has been a major focus of blame ever since the loss.
“All I’m saying is those are the facts of what happened Super Bowl week. So our ire wasn’t towards Barret Robbins, it was towards Bill Callahan. Because we feel as if he wouldn’t have did what he did, then Barret wouldn’t have done what he did,” Brown said.
“I played 27 years of football. The coaches never changed the game plan the Friday before the game. I’m not trying to point fingers at anybody here, all I’m saying is those are the facts of what happened. So people look at Barret and they say all these things, but every player in that locker room will tell you, ‘You’d better talk to Bill Callahan.’ Because if not for Coach Callahan, I don’t think we’re in that situation.”